Cardinal Dolan Blesses St. Monica Shrine at Ossining Parish

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Cardinal Dolan celebrated Mass and blessed the St. Monica Shrine overlooking the Hudson River at St. Augustine Church in Ossining May 28.

St. Monica, who lived in the fourth century, was the mother of St. Augustine. 

One of the stone markers at the St. Monica Shrine is dedicated to the memory of Shirley Jean Ratcliffe Dolan, Cardinal Dolan’s mother, who passed away March 12 at age 93. Prayers were offered for her at St. Augustine School during the week of June 6.

“Today, we praise you for the gifts of the Holy Spirit bestowed on St. Monica,” Cardinal Dolan said. “May we follow in the footsteps of the Lord, keeping before us the example of Monica and grow to maturity measured by the fullness of Christ. As we carry out these earthly duties, may we be filled by the spirit of Christ and keep our eyes fixed on heaven where you receive all those who reign with your Son forever and ever.”

In his homily, Cardinal Dolan said his joy was enhanced by offering Mass on Memorial Day Weekend with the presence of priests and deacons, the blessing of the St. Monica Shrine, the Ascension of Jesus to heaven and the upcoming feast of Pentecost.

“Last Thursday, 40 days after Easter, was the Ascension of Jesus back to heaven, a great feast in the life of the Church, and ask yourselves what the apostles did once Jesus physically departed from them,” the cardinal said. “It had to be kind of traumatic for them. They thought they had lost Him, and in this traumatic time, I simply pose those four questions to you: What did they do? How did they do it? With whom did they do it? And why did they do it?”

The cardinal said the apostles prayed with patience and prayed to Jesus with Mary on Pentecost.

“They were praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Jesus told them when I leave you, don’t you get scared or worried, because I will send you the Holy Spirit. So they didn't quite understand who the Holy Spirit was. We still don't by the way, but they said, ‘Well, Jesus promised us he’d send us the Holy Spirit.’ So why don’t we just simply pray, ‘Come Holy Spirit, come Holy Spirit,’ three simple words. They’re really one of the best prayers that we can have, and sure enough the last day of the novena, which was Pentecost, which we’re going to celebrate next Sunday (June 5), the Holy Spirit was unleashed upon the apostles and the early Church.” 

Before the conclusion of Mass, Father Brian McSweeney, pastor of St. Augustine, thanked Cardinal Dolan for celebrating Mass and St. Monica for the beautiful weather before parishioners exited church for the blessing of the shrine and a reception in the parish hall.

The pastor made one final announcement. 

“Between the statue of St. Monica and the parish hall, we have placed a memorial to the victims of Covid and in honor of the Knights of Columbus who have so gallantly come to our aid during this pandemic,” Father McSweeney said. “The Knights of Columbus, as you know, were here counting heads so we could follow the law in the number of people who could attend Mass. They were here after every Mass sanitizing all the pews to make sure all of our parishioners were safe and healthy.”

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